Mother Nature & National Parks

For as long as I can remember, Mr. SBF and I have had a desire to visit Yellowstone National Park. Early last year we toyed with the idea of going but then we were presented with an opportunity to visit Key West, Florida so we decided to postpone the trip to Yellowstone until this year and made plans to road trip to Florida instead.

For various reasons, the dates for our Florida trip were pushed back and then Mother Nature had her way and sent hurricanes to the areas we had planned to visit along the way.

Feeling a little bit disappointed, we changed our plans once again. We had been talking about visiting Pocatello and Idaho Falls, ID as prospective places for future residence, so we headed to Idaho instead.

We spent a day a couple of days exploring the areas and were quite taken with the charm of Idaho Falls. One morning over breakfast I decided to look at a map of Idaho and Wyoming. We knew we were in eastern Idaho near the Wyoming border, but what we didn’t realize was how close we were to Yellowstone. So, after we finished eating, we jumped in the car and headed north to West Yellowstone, MT and a couple of hours later, arrived at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The entrance fee was $20 and it was already mid-afternoon but we figured that we might as well go for it and see what we could see while there was still daylight. Luckily, it was early October so the days were still fairly long. And being early October, the leaves on the trees had begun to change colors and the temperatures were perfect; balmy but not too cold.

Just a few miles in, we encountered bison and elk, grazing right alongside the road. We snapped a few pictures but wanting to take in all we possibly could, we continued on our way. We made it to the Paint Pots, took the walking tour around them, and continued on to see the geysers, Ol’ Faithful to be exact. Apparently, we had missed its eruption by mere minutes but the next eruption was predicted to happen about an hour and a half later. So we, and several other tourists waited. There’s a nice visitor’s center at the site, along with a snack bar and souvenir store. We met some nice people and chatted while we waited. It was like waiting for the fireworks show to begin on the fourth of July! And Ol’ Faithful did not disappoint. By the time the show was over, it was nearly dark. With mixed emotions, we decided that we had better head back into town (W. Yellowstone, MT).

On our way back, I pulled out the receipt for our entry fee only to discover that it was a five-day pass! I don’t know why I didn’t realize that it would be good for several days. Most of the National Parks give multiday passes, I just wasn’t thinking. Duh. We were pretty excited, found a room for the night and went to dinner.

The next morning we headed back into the park, armed with a map and a well-routed plan. We were able to see about seventy-five percent of the park. I really can’t even begin to describe the beauty of the place! The colors, microorganisms, hot springs, mud pots, the Terraces, and Dragon’s Cauldron, all breath-taking! The landscape is so diverse and full of surprises at every turn. And Yellowstone Lake is much larger than I ever imagined it would be. To be honest, until I studied the map, we hadn’t even realized there was a “Yellowstone Lake”. We expected to see lakes, yes, but not The Lake! Haha! And there is apparently, all kinds of water sports and activities that go on up there during the summer (ie. boating, water skiing, etc.). Who knew? Well, lots of people, I suppose!

We spent the whole day exploring and then exited the Park via the south entrance which drops you into the Grand Teton National Park (bonus!) and oh em gee, those are some breath-taking mountains as well! They are dark and jagged and full of mystery!  Our plan is to go back and spend some time camping and exploring in the Grand Teton National Forest. It really is just as beautiful as Yellowstone, only in different ways.

To top it all off, we arrived in Jackson, WY just in time for dinner. I was a little disappointed at the fact that we arrived in Jackson so late in the day. I would have loved to explore, shop, and bask in its quaintness for a while longer, but alas, we had to get back to Idaho Falls that night.

All in all, it was a good trip and we highly recommend a visit to Yellowstone.

No matter where you make your home, a trip to Yellowstone is well-worth the journey!

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Sky Views & Attitude

When you live in the desert but are an ocean girl at heart, you’re often hard pressed to find beauty in your everyday surroundings. At least that’s the case for me. The ocean is my happy place. The damp, salty air, the sound of the waves and gulls, the smell of sea creatures and kelp; I love everything about it. Five minutes at the ocean and I am the vision of peace and calm. Seriously.

Like I said, I live in the desert. In Nevada. The wind blows quite a bit here and there’s lots of dirty dirt; nothing like ocean breezes and beach sand. But thankfully, I live in northern Nevada. No, it’s nowhere near Las Vegas. We’re nestled in a valley near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Which is a good thing because after the ocean, my next favorite place to be is in the mountains. And we don’t have to drive very far to get me to the mountains.

Wow, I sound like a whiny brat! Probably because for a while after moving here, I kind of was a whiny brat. It took me some time to decide to make the most of this desert and to choose to see the beauty that it has to offer.

The ever-changing landscape is very noticeable here. Partly because it’s a farming community and much of it is planted and harvested every year and partly because it is a valley nestled between mountain ranges. Though the wind can set me on edge, with it comes diverse weather patterns. A standing joke around here is that you can experience all four seasons in one day. It really is true. One minute you can be sweating because of the blistering sun and the next thing you know, hurricane force winds start blowing, bringing dark, broody clouds that dump gallons of rain in a matter of minutes. Sometimes winters here are wet and snowy and other times they are dry and bone-achingly cold. Sometimes Spring comes early and other times we barely have any springtime. Summers are always hot and Fall varies in length like Spring does. But the one thing I can always count on is the sky.

Our place is situated so that I  have a beautiful view of the morning sky.  When I remember to take the time and look out at the sunrise, I am never disappointed. The colors are breathtaking and the feelings they impart to me stay with me the whole day. When the wind blows, the clouds roll over the hills on the west side and make their way across the land, giving us a show of unmatched magnificence. Sometimes, the clouds lay on top of each other in layers giving the illusion of ocean waves and if I listen closely, I can almost hear them crashing upon each other. Sometimes we get giant puffy white clouds, other times we get flying saucer clouds and the thunderheads we get are impressively intimidating. The sunsets are nothing to sneer at either.  I never realized how many shades of pastel there are. Pinks, lavenders, yellows, grays, various hues of blues…even varying shades of white. Every bit of our northern Nevada sky is amazing.

I often say that our view of the sky is the best part about where we live. And it is. Because if we didn’t have this wonderful diversity in our skyscapes, I might be hard-pressed to find something to get excited about around here. That sounds shallow but it’s how I feel because the desert just isn’t my favorite. But here’s a funny tidbit. For the past few months, Mr. SBF and I have been traveling around a bit, checking out other places here and there, poking around to see if there is somewhere else for us to be and much to our bewilderment, no place else has quite felt like home.  Every time we return to our humble abode from one of our outings, we breathe a big sigh of relief. How’s that for irony? Maybe it’s because this is where we raised our children. Or maybe it’s because the rural lifestyle suits us so well. Maybe it’s because this is our comfort zone. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, it seems pretty clear that, for us, Nevada means home. At least for now anyway. And that’s okay.  For richer, for poorer, at the ocean or in the desert, my sweetheart and I are together and that is definitely what matters the most.

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